“WE ARE A PO­TENT AIR POWER”

AIR CHIEF MAR­SHAL B.S. DHANOA, CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF

SP's Aviation - - FRONT PAGE -

SP’s Avi­a­tion (SP’s): If you look back, how do you per­ceive the event that wit­nessed drop­ping of “R” (Royal) from RIAF (Royal In­dian Air Force) in­tro­duc­ing In­dia’s own In­dian Air Force? Chief of the Air Staff (CAS): Drop­ping of the pre­fix ‘Royal’ was the in­evitable step in the process of com­mit­ting the ser­vice to the Repub­lic of In­dia. It sig­ni­fied the IAF’s com­plete loy­alty to the Pres­i­dent as the Head of State and the Supreme Com­man­der of the In­dian Armed Forces and not the Royal sov­er­eign of a dis­tant land.

SP’s: In to­day’s time of Joint War­fare ship, do you feel the ri­valry within the ser­vices still ex­ists?

CAS: Ma­jor mil­i­tary cam­paigns in the re­cent past have shown us that the suc­cess rate is high­est when we use a force which is log­i­cally bal­anced in terms of tech­nol­ogy as well as com­po­nents of aero­space, sur­face and sub-sur­face forces. The In­dian Armed Forces are alive to this sit­u­a­tion. The IAF al­ways pro­motes in­ter­op­er­abil­ity in all spheres as it strength­ens the ex­ist­ing re­sources of the three ser­vices. The IAF’s thrust to­wards in­ter­op­er­abil­ity be­gins with ver­ti­cal co­or­di­na­tion at all lev­els for plan­ning joint cam­paigns keep­ing in mind the mo­bil­i­sa­tion, tar­get­ing and as­sault plans of the other ser­vices.

Road map for joint war gam­ing is be­ing for­mu­lated jointly by three ser­vices. As such all ma­jor ex­er­cises in­volve two/three Ser­vices eg. Live Wire-15, Tropex, Ga­gan Shakti 18, etc. An­nual Joint HADR Ex­er­cises are be­ing con­ducted, in­cor­po­rat­ing all three Ser­vices as well as Para Mil­i­tary and Civil Ad­min­is­tra­tion. All th­ese ex­er­cises are jointly con­ceived, planned, co­or­di­nated and con­ducted.

SP’s: How would you per­ceive the politi­ciza­tion of mil­i­tary ac­qui­si­tion pro­grammes once con­cluded?

CAS: The de­fence pro­cure­ments are be­ing un­der­taken as per the guide­lines spec­i­fied in the De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure (DPP). The DPP has been re­vised from time to time while re­tain­ing the ba­sic char­ac­ter of Trans­parency, Pro­bity and Pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity. The IAF is stead­fast and com­mit­ted to­wards achieve­ment of our long term pro­cure­ment plans as per the DPP.

SP’s: Would you like to in­di­cate on what all ini­tia­tives are be­ing taken by our Air Force to en­sure –

(a): Con­stant boost­ing of the morale of air­men.

CAS: In an en­deav­our to en­hance sat­is­fac­tion level and morale of se­nior Sergeants, it has been de­cided that all Sergeants who have com­pleted 29 years of ser­vice, will be granted act­ing un­paid rank of Ju­nior War­rant Of­fi­cer (JWO). This will en­able such air­men to re­tire as JWOs. Skill grad­ing of Air­men has been given en­hanced im­pe­tus through con­duct of test by REB/GEB. The same has been linked to the pro­fes­sional per­for­mance of air­men in cer­tain at­tributes of their an­nual re­ports. So far a gazette no­ti­fi­ca­tion was pub­lished for the pro­mo­tion to the rank

of sub­stan­tive War­rant Of­fi­cer (WO). The same has been ex­tended to MWOs, WOs and JWOs as well.

Also, no ac­tiv­ity can be more peren­ni­ally re­ward­ing for the air war­riors than the qual­ity school­ing for their wards. IAF there­fore lays re­quired em­pha­sis and all 132 Air Force Schools have carved a niche for them­selves. Our Board Ex­am­i­na­tion re­sults this year have been en­cour­ag­ing and much above the na­tional av­er­age. NITI Aayog has funded set­ting up of the pres­ti­gious Atal Tinker­ing Labs in three Air Force Schools. You will see a ris­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion of our schools in such projects in the com­ing years. Ad­mis­sion con­cerns of the air war­riors in Ken­driya Vidyalayas, dur­ing trans­fers, have also been ad­dressed and ac­cord­ingly class ca­pac­ity has been en­hanced for the wards of de­fence per­son­nel.

(b): Youth of the coun­try gets at­tracted to­wards the Air Force as a ca­reer.

CAS: ‘DISHA’ at Air HQ con­ducts In­duc­tion Pub­lic­ity Pro­grammes all across the coun­try re­lated to in­duc­tion/ca­reer in the IAF. Pur­pose of th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties is to de­velop the ‘IAF Brand’ amongst the tar­get group and to make the youth aware about var­i­ous ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able for them in the IAF. Var­i­ous ini­tia­tives and pub­lic­ity ef­forts have been taken by the Air Force. NCC spe­cial en­try has been ex­tended to women Air Wing Cadets with ‘C’ cer­tifi­cate. This would en­able them to di­rectly go for SSB, with­out any screen­ing test to be­come a Short Ser­vice Com­mis­sioned Of­fi­cer in the fly­ing branch of the IAF. On­line test­ing of Air Force Com­mon Ad­mis­sion Test (AFCAT) has been im­ple­mented on pan-In­dia ba­sis. To reach the youth the IAF main­tains a ca­reer web­site www.ca­reerindi­anair­force.cdac.in which con­tains all the in­duc­tion and se­lec­tion-re­lated in­for­ma­tion. Ad­ver­tise­ment for all the en­tries is re­leased in Em­ploy­ment News, var­i­ous mag­a­zines and also as news­pa­per ad­ver­tise­ment in ver­nac­u­lar lan­guage on panIn­dia ba­sis. Dur­ing the process of in­duc­tion, a large num­ber of voice calls on in­duc­tion queries of re­peated na­ture are re­solved through IVRS. Thrust on mo­ti­va­tional lec­tures and one-to-one in­ter­ac­tion, which is the most ef­fec­tive method of pub­lic­ity, has been en­hanced for pro­vid­ing guid­ance to stu­dents of premier in­sti­tutes as well as ru­ral ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes, NCC Cadets and Sainik Schools. Spe­cific in­sti­tu­tions in ge­o­graph­i­cally dis­placed re­gions have been iden­ti­fied and mo­ti­va­tional talks have been con­ducted. Air Force par­tic­i­pates in var­i­ous ex­hi­bi­tions and fairs. Pub­lic­ity stalls were set up at var­i­ous fo­rums such as ‘Youth Fes­ti­vals’, ‘Aero In­dia Air Shows’, ‘ Know your Forces’, Na­tional Bal Bha­van, etc. In­duc­tion Pub­lic­ity Ex­hi­bi­tion Ve­hi­cle (IPEV) was launched on Oc­to­ber 8, 2015, as a pi­lot project and has suc­cess­fully com­pleted six road drives in the North, East, West, Cen­tral and South­ern parts of the coun­try. IPEV drives have so far cov­ered 32,000 km, 500 in­sti­tutes and re­sulted in one to one in­ter­ac­tion with ap­prox­i­mately 1,50,000 stu­dents. The in­duc­tion-re­lated in­for­ma­tion is be­ing up­loaded from time to time in IAFs of­fi­cial ac­count of Face­book, In­sta­gram and Twit­ter.

SP’s: If you can also in­di­cate on any time line be­ing fixed for th­ese: a: Avro Re­place­ment by C295 –part of Tata-Air­bus JV;

b: In-Flight Re­fu­el­ing Air­craft re­quire­ment of IAF;

c: Cor­rec­tion in the to­tal num­ber of fighter squadrons which ap­pears to be pretty far from the de­sired level of num­ber of squadrons; d: Jaguar up­grade; e: Ad­di­tional 38 Pi­la­tus train­ers; f: Un­manned Com­bat Ae­rial Ve­hi­cle

(UCAV). CAS (a): The Avro re­place­ment case is un­der­way and presently ne­go­ti­a­tions are in progress.

(b): The RFI for six FRA has been is­sued in March 2018 and the case will be pro­gressed as per DPP.

(c): The IAF cur­rently has 31 ac­tive fighter squadrons. The fighter air­craft strength is planned to be made good through in­duc­tion of re­main­ing con­tracted Su-30 MKI, LCA and the Rafale. Pro­cure­ment for 83 LCA Mk1 A has been ini­ti­ated. Fur­ther, the case for 114 fighter air­craft is be­ing pro­cessed un­der the Strate­gic Part­ner­ship model of DPP-16. Other op­tions are also be­ing ex­plored to build up to au­tho­rised strength at the ear­li­est.

(d): Jaguar DARIN III air­craft are un­der­go­ing midlife se­ries up­grade at HAL.

(e): The IAF is pro­cess­ing pro­cure­ment of 38 ad­di­tional Pi­la­tus PC-7 Mk II un­der the ‘Op­tion Clause’ to meet the train­ing re­quire­ments.

(f): The IAF in­tends to ex­pand its RPA fleet. The IAF is work­ing with DRDO for de­vel­op­ing such a ca­pa­bil­ity wherein the con­tours are be­ing fi­nalised.

SP’s: The IAF has now been par­tic­i­pat­ing in nu­mer­ous in­ter­na­tional ex­er­cises across the globe. Is there a rad­i­cal change in the IAF doc­trine and will IAF be a part of any multi-na­tion op­er­a­tions?

CAS: Dur­ing the con­duct of in­ter­na­tional ex­er­cise, var­i­ous method­olo­gies of op­er­a­tional plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion are in­cor­po­rated. Lessons learnt with con­duct of ev­ery multi-na­tion ex­er­cise are de­lib­er­ated at the high­est lev­els. The IAF is geared up to un­der­take all tasks as­signed by the Govern­ment of In­dia.

SP’s: Is Air Force look­ing at re-or­gan­is­ing the Main­te­nance Com­mand and the BRDs /EDs to sup­port the air­craft/ sys­tems re­pair and over­haul? How is the mod­erni­sa­tion of the BRDs be­ing pro­gressed?

CAS: Ex­cept for mi­nor re­arrange­ment, there is no ma­jor re­or­gan­i­sa­tion en­vis­aged as role and task of Main­te­nance Com­mand and its task is well de­fined.

Main­te­nance Com­mand has been ef­fec­tively un­der­tak­ing En­gi­neer­ing and Sup­ply Chain tasks for le­gacy as

“The IAF’s thrust to­wards in­ter­op­er­abil­ity be­gins with ver­ti­cal co­or­di­na­tion at all lev­els for plan­ning joint cam­paigns keep­ing in mind the mo­bil­i­sa­tion, tar­get­ing and as­sault plans of the other ser­vices”

“As for in­te­grated com­mands, the IAF is of the view that given the size of our na­tion, the en­tire coun­try needs to be treated as a sin­gle the­atre”

well as state-of-the-art weapon de­liv­ery plat­forms and sys­tems through 52 units func­tion­ing un­der it. BRDs have been in the fore­front of car­ry­ing out MRO ac­tiv­i­ties for our mil­i­tary as­sets. EDs are vi­tal links in the sup­ply chain man­age­ment of the IAF deal­ing with pro­vi­sion­ing, pro­cure­ment, ware­hous­ing and trans­porta­tion of ag­gre­gates and spares to var­i­ous op­er­a­tional units. Th­ese units are con­sid­ered crit­i­cal for ef­fec­tive main­te­nance sup­port and to sus­tain the op­er­a­tions as per the pace de­sired by the mod­ern era.

Main­te­nance Com­mand tasks ex­tend much be­yond ROH and ware­hous­ing of weapon sys­tems and in­clude in­di­geni­sa­tion of spares, in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to ad­dress ob­so­les­cence, mod­i­fi­ca­tion of ex­ist­ing equip­ment for ca­pa­bil­ity en­hance­ment and life en­hance­ment to name a few.

BRDs have also be­come Cen­tres of Ex­cel­lence in re­spec­tive func­tional ar­eas. No­dal Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tres (NTCs) have been formed at our De­pots to closely in­ter­act with in­dus­try, academia and re­search labs to ef­fec­tively sup­port the ‘Make in In­dia’ mis­sion. NTCs will also func­tion as in­cu­ba­tors for de­fence start-ups.

Mod­erni­sa­tion of BRDs is be­ing pro­gressed in a three­p­ronged strat­egy be­cause of longer ges­ta­tion pe­riod in ma­te­ri­al­is­ing mod­ern equip­ment. Part of mod­erni­sa­tion process is de-cen­tralised. In this de-cen­tralised mod­erni­sa­tion process, BRDs are procur­ing mod­ern equip­ment that are of spe­cific use to that par­tic­u­lar BRD and pro­cure­ment of which is ur­gent in na­ture for func­tion­ing of the BRD. This is an on-go­ing process and BRDs have ben­e­fit­ted by hav­ing lat­est ma­chines and equip­ment.

For items of equip­ment that are com­mon to var­i­ous De­pots and wherein cost ad­van­tage can be gen­er­ated be­cause of quan­ti­ties are be­ing pro­cessed cen­trally by Air HQ. Pro­cure­ment of 135 ma­chines is planned as part of this ac­tion.

In order to ex­pose IAF per­son­nel work­ing in BRDs to mod­ern tech­nol­ogy and pro­cesses, reg­u­lar vis­its of BRD of­fi­cers and air­men to civil in­dus­try in In­dia are be­ing or­gan­ised. We have en­sured train­ing of our tech­ni­cians so as to im­bibe Best Prac­tices by ex­pos­ing them to in­sti­tutes like IGCAR, BEL, etc and to var­i­ous work­shops on Qual­ity As­sur­ance, lat­est re­pair tech­niques be­ing con­ducted at PSUs and in civil in­sti­tutes.

SP’s: What is your view on the The­atre Com­mand con­cept be­ing con­sid­ered by the Army? Will it rad­i­cally change the way IAF op­er­ates?

CAS: On the is­sue of in­te­grated com­mands, the IAF is of the view that given the size of our na­tion, the en­tire coun­try needs to be treated as a sin­gle the­atre. This is in line with the gen­eral ex­panse of theatres seen in ma­jor mil­i­taries that sub­scribe to this model. The Western The­atre Com­mand of China is as large as In­dia. The other ma­jor mil­i­tary that sub­scribes to this model, i.e. the US mil­i­tary also has in­te­grated com­mands which are far larger. For ex­am­ple, the en­tire Con­ti­nen­tal United States, along with Canada and Mex­ico make up the area of the US North­ern Com­mand.

The IAF is com­pletely in favour of the re­form of the Higher De­fence Or­gan­i­sa­tion. The ex­act na­ture of this re­form is the sub­ject of ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tions be­tween the con­cerned stake­hold­ers and in­cludes the es­tab­lish­ment of a Per­ma­nent Chair­man Chief of Staff Com­mit­tee as the sin­gle­point pro­fes­sional mil­i­tary ad­vi­sor to the Cab­i­net on de­fence mat­ters, along with for­ma­tion of de­part­ments of the Army, Navy and the Air Force headed by the re­spec­tive Vice Chiefs as Sec­re­taries.

“The fighter air­craft strength is planned to be made good through in­duc­tion of re­main­ing con­tracted Su-30 MKI, LCA and the Rafale”

(LEFT) AIR CHIEF MAR­SHAL B.S. DHANOA WITH DE­FENCE MIN­IS­TER NIR­MALA SITHARAMAN AT AIR FORCE STA­TION UTTARLAI IN RA­JASTHAN; (RIGHT) CAS DHANOA IN THE COCK­PIT OF RAFALE FIGHER JET IN FRANCE IN JULY 2017.

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